Reggae is a largely misunderstood musical genre; not only was it not invented solely by Bob Marley in the mid 70’s (who himself had even deeper musical roots with the Wailing Wailers in the early 60’s) like too many think, but it also encompasses an ever-growing and changing past, present and future, including entirely new groups of evolutionary musicians finding new ways to carry the island rhythms forward.
Forging driving and endearing music with reggae at the center, Pueblo’s own Beyond Bridges is at the forefront of such endeavors. Much more than your average reggae act, the band also harnesses elements of heavy So-Cal surf rock and alternative music, at times exploding with overdriven,intertwined and complex soloing a la metal gods Iron Maiden and monster stadium rock choruses. While the juxtaposition on paper seems odd, this quartet navigates such choppy and uncertain waters with ease, heavy riff-laden rock eased up with soothing dubbed-out reggae refrain.
All of this has come to a head with “On My Mind,” the first EP from Beyond Bridges; 5 songs from a formidable band of brothers who are here to have a good time and help you do the same.
John Bueno (PULP): I’m a few listens in to your new EP, and I gotta say, I’m a bit surprised something like this is coming out of Pueblo. Not in a bad way though; it’s just it isn’t something we usually have here.
Adrian Hernandez (bass/vocals): We’re all from here. So we get it. And we all know that there’s a stigma about anything coming out from here. But we’d like to think we can break through that.
Tony Garcia (guitar): I feel like there’s a new generation here; and they’re interested in progressing. It’s not “Pueblo can’t do this” anymore; now it’s more like “Pueblo SHOULD do this.” Kind of go beyond what we are comfortable with.
Speaking of going beyond, does the name Beyond Bridges represent that idea?
TG: Actually, when Kai (Furuto; multi instrumentalist and vocalist of Beyond Bridges) and I started this as a duo act, we would always write songs that would end up having this complex bridge part that would kind of veer off into solos and stuff. So we were looking for something involving bridges. We wanted to call it Bed Bath and Beyond Bridges. (laughs)
AH: It was too hard to license the logo. (laughs)
Your new EP was recorded and produced with Lastleaf Audio here in town; is this your first?
AH: Yes it is.
How was the making of it?
AH: Well, it was my first complete thing, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. But we tried to go into a studio once early on, and maybe it was too early; but working with Matt (Herrera/ Lastleaf engineer) was a totally different experience; much more comfortable this time.
Some producers have a tendency to be a little too hands on or assertive when working with bands; it may sound soft, but most musicians are sensitive. Especially when it comes to something they’ve created. It was great having Matt, because he’s not the type to push you into what he wants you to do; he lets you guide yourself to the best sound and arrangement.
Kyle Spinuzzi (drums): We did drums the first day, and it was super easy. Matt is so great to work with. His place was comfortable to produce in and I went in confident. Plus it’s nice to do this in our hometown; not everyone gets that opportunity.
TG: It was really interesting for me. I do and run sound a lot, but it’s a totally different thing from raw live sound to the mixing and mastering stage; I knew what our sound was and what we could do, but it was really cool to turn that into an end result. It was a learning process the whole way.
I like that Matt didn’t autotune a thing, either. There’s very little correction on anything. We got a raw sound from him. There were a lot of takes involved to do that, though.
AH: Mostly because I was moving my feet while recording.
TG: But Matt wanted that to be us, in our raw stage, maybe with a little more sparkle. Moving forward, I’ll take all of this in for our next recording as a guide for sure.
That’s a definite plus to do all the recording and mastering in town. Way easier I would think. You don’t have to rush it.
TG: We did it over the holidays, right when everyone was already busy.
AH: Oh yeah; the time span was over like 4 months or so. There was no big rush with Matt; he was never standing over us looking at his watch saying “you got a half hour” or anything like that. We were able to go over every song layer by layer, instrument by instrument, until we felt great about all of it. We were able to stay in a creative mindset that way.
It was also done like, 2 blocks from my childhood home. Which is pretty cool. (laughs)
AH: Also Kai, who is not here, is a big part of the sound too. He plays a bit of everything on the record, helped write the songs. He is our firecracker!
When it comes out, what do you hope listeners come away with from the after hearing it?
TG: Our music comes from a lot of different places; we aren’t gonna stick to a single musical genre. We like to use different genres like spices, you know? We’re not strictly a reggae band. We’ll use reggae as a spice, ska as a spice, rock and alternative as a spice; but the end product is a natural recording of who we are as a unit. The exact tones from that album are the same ones coming from my guitar; Adrian’s voice is pure and clean and beautiful. Kyle’s drumming is to a click. (laughs)
AH: There’s always some vulnerability to releasing something that you’ve worked on, you know? That’s another plus for working with Matt. I was talking to my dad today and I told him that good or bad, it’s gonna be out there; and it’s good to know that during the process of making the album the person you’re doing it with is making everyone comfortable with your creativity. You need to be wholehearted for it to come out organically.
Do you feel like Colorado is warm to you as a band?
AH: I think we are lucky to be from here; and Pueblo is lucky to be here right now. The reggae scene is absolutely flourishing right now, which is probably in no small part to the marijuana industry. But that’s another story. But that niche audience lives in Colorado; we’re able to be who we are as a band and still have these great opportunities, which is not something a lot of people get to say. We are able to fit in with bands all over the reggae spectrum because we don’t just stick to a sound; we like to just write songs, however they come out as individual creations.
So Colorado is a good home base then?
TG: Colorado is my base for sure. I am always down for it. I love it here.
AH: Absolutely. I think this is the most beautiful state in the country; I may have only been to like 12 other states, so I’m no almanac (laughs). But I feel proud and extremely lucky to be here, especially as a musician. This may be silly to some, but the idea that one day I might get to play at Red Rocks (Amphitheatre) is a huge driving force and motivation to keep doing what we’re doing.
That’s quite the goal!
AH: Baby steps, man.
Anything you’d like to see done differently here in the area as far as the music scene goes?
TG: It would be nice if Pueblo helped build its’ music scene. There aren’t too many live music venues here, but maybe the culture just isn’t quite there yet.
AH: I think it would be in Pueblo’s best interest to grab hold onto the artists we already have here. We could have a renaissance of sorts! It’s something we’ve talked about probably since I was a kid, but harnessing that artist energy from the area and giving more avenues to come out would do a lot, especially in this downtown area. But as is, I love this town right now too. It doesn’t get enough love or credit. We just wanna show people part of the arts that have always been here.
As a band, you maintain a pretty consistent live schedule, though. Any plans on taking it on the road more?
TG: Definitely. We’d like to create more small tours with bands that come through. Over the last year and half or so, we’ve had the chance to watch and learn from so many different bands. We get to see bands from all spectrums, and we would just to learn more from other groups and follow their lead a bit. Right now, we’re a great 30 minute band; but to put on a full 90 minute headlining set is a whole different beast. We want to learn under these smaller bands and create something special.